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Using Good Judgment While Not Judging Others by Tim Dunlap

Updated: May 29, 2022

Good Morning, my name is Tim Dunlap. I want to thank Madison Brown and Andrea Holloway for their talks this morning. It’s so amazing to think that three people could be assigned the same topic and yet deliver such different and inspiring messages. We even use different quotes from some of the same people. I have been asked to speak about “Using good judgment while not judging others.”

As I was thinking, praying, and pondering about this topic this week I had many thoughts. As many of you who know me, probably half my memory is filled with useless knowledge and movie quotes. So, naturally some of the first things that came to my mind were movie quotes or cliches about being judgy. So as I speak, pay attention as my talk will be peppered with poignant little phrases and quotes from some of your favorite movies.

Our master and savior Jesus Christ delivered the Sermon on the Mount. This incredible discourse was preached to the multitude and to his disciples was groundbreaking. It taught to replace the old Law of Moses and transcended aspects of higher understanding to become like our Heavenly Father, who is perfect, and what we must do to return to him. As Jesus taught these higher truths, he concluded with, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

In Matthew chapter 7 verses 1-5 it reads:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: And with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in the brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote of of thy brother’s eye.”

This takes me back to a lesson that my mother and father taught because in my house growing up we had these big wooden beams in our living room that held up the roof. Just like our chapel has these giant wooden beams to hold up the roof and are utilized in framing buildings. I wondered, What is a mote? A mote is a tiny chip, or spec or splinter. I always thought, “Mom, I don’t want a beam in my eye!” And she would say, “Well, then don’t be a hypocrite!” That pretty much sums it up, I could have ended my talk right there, or with Elder Dieter Uchtdorf’s advice when he said, “Stop it.” But, I doubt the bishop wants everyone wandering the halls for the next twenty minutes.

As imperfect human mortals, our “natural man“ and our pride makes us prone to judge each other without considering facts or circumstance. Jesus condemned this type of behavior. Especially to the one that is always ready to correct his brothers faults; and this was in Jesus’ time. Have things really changed in several thousand years? Not really, if you ask me. In speaking of olden times, J.R.R. Tolkein’s character Aragorn said, “How shall a man judge what to do in such times? Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear. It is man’s part to discern them.” We are agents to act for ourselves, and judgment is an important use of our free agency because it directly influences how we treat people.

Maybe this is why I was asked to speak about this because for those of you who don’t know, I am a police officer, a deputy sheriff. I have to make judgments every day based on what I know of a particular incident or person. When I investigate, I have to take into consideration things like evidence, intent, and present ability. I have to make a judgment call based on the current laws of the land and the spirit of the law. The decisions and judgments I make could set someone free or to take away their freedom. It has been important for me in making these decisions to put myself in someone else’s shoes so that I can empathize with someone in their reality. As often times, I am meeting people for the first time on the worst day of their lives.

That’s why we should always approach judgment with care and compassion. We should judge each other people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. We should not judge until we have adequate knowledge and facts regarding the situation. Sometimes people feel it is wrong to judge others in any way. Of course we should never condemn others or judge unrighteously. We need to make all kinds of judgments on a daily basis. Judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout our lives. In a world so flooded with media we need to judge what “of the world“ we let into our homes and that our kids have access to.

Righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them, and in some cases protection for our families. We should always be sensitive to the spirit. He is our constant companion in making important decisions. This is evident in examples like Alma counseling his son Corianton. In Alma chapter 41 verse 14 it reads:

“Therefore, my son, see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then ye shall receive your reward; yea, ye shall have justice restored unto you again; ye shall have a righteous judgment restored unto you again; and ye shall have good rewarded to you again.”

When seeking righteous judgment, Elder Dieter Uchtdorf counseled us to never hate, hold grudges, gossip, or cause harm to our fellow man. The spirit can help us replace judgmental feelings with love and understanding. So many times have I seen these poignant words tattooed on peoples bodies, necks, and faces that, “Only God can Judge”... me along with the “Smile now, cry later” faces. But, in reality, only God, who knows an individuals heart can make final judgments of individuals. God has given us his son Jesus Christ as an example to love one another and help each other with our burdens.

Many times, we focus so much on finding fault with others that we fail to see the fault in ourselves. We should strive to improve ourselves. It is often said, “When you point the finger at someone, you are pointing three right back at you.” A co-worker, Nechelle Reyes said, “To judge is to show your own insecurity.” We are all imperfect and that is why the gospel of Jesus Christ is so important. It is a lifestyle. It is eternal, not some thing that we only do on Sundays. As we put off pride and unrighteous judgment the spirit will direct us daily in making important decisions and judgment calls; like choosing friends, voting for government leaders, and choosing a spouse. This can be difficult, and we will make mistakes. “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of experience comes from bad judgment” or “Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you do.” Have any of us ever been judged unrighteously or judged unrighteously ourselves? Either way, it’s not a good feeling.

These days, with social media and instant news it’s so easy to develop bias and get caught in spreading rumors and being a part of the, “Cancel culture. This is not God’s way.

We have all made mistakes and require mercy at one point, or MANY points in our lives. To judge is to deny each other the mercy and grace of God. We all need to be forgiven for mistakes and sins we have committed. Jesus Christ and his sacred atonement will wash us clean of our sins. Jesus Christ satisfied the demands of justice when he stood in our place and suffered for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane. As we repent of our own sins we feel the mercy of the atonement and more readily forgive others. As we forgive others, we dole out mercy and are instruments to show compassion and understanding and allow the atonement of Jesus Christ to work miracles in the lives of others.

Elder N. Eldon Tanner said, “The reason therefore we cannot judge is obvious. We cannot see what is in the heart. We do not know motives. Although we impute motives in every action we see, they may be pure; while we think they are improper. It is impossible to judge another fairly unless you know his desire, his faith, and his goals”

If people would take more time to get to know someone before rushing to judgment, one could really get a chance to see who a person is. That is why you never judge a book by its cover. Regardless of our egos, pride, or insecurity, if we but loved one another, our lives would be happier. We would be contributing more to society and to the happiness of others. This is why the Sermon on the Mount has endured the test of time. It was sincere and taught us to hear and then, “DO.” Christ us to be, “Doers” of the word. Only by doing the will of the father is the saving grace of the son obtainable.

The Savior taught the judgment, mercy, and faith are the, “Weightier matters of the law.” Jesus taught us to, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, love your neighbor as yourself, when smitten, turn the other cheek, when asked for a coat give your cloak also, forgive not just once but seventy times seven.” This is the essence of the new gospel, the “Good news.” There is more emphasis on DO, than do not. As Jedi Master Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try.” Let us utilize the Holy Ghost first when making judgments. When in doubt, priesthood leaders can also help us help guide us in wisdom and righteousness. Love should be a constant temper to all of our judgments.

Those who extend righteous judgment, mercy, faith, and forgiveness exhibit a greatness of soul and mind consistent with the Spirit of the Lord’s teachings and example. This higher truth and higher gospel Jesus Christ taught his famous sermon requires that we always look inward into our own souls. We never gain anything by tearing someone else down. In Moses 1:39 it reads, “For behold, this is my work and my glory. To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”

In closing, I want to issue a challenge: Do not judge unrighteously! Look for opportunities at home, at school, or at work to avoid gossip. Look for opportunities to get to know someone and find out about their struggles and their passions. Look for those times when presented with gossip or a rumor to say, “I will gather more knowledge, more facts, more understanding” to make a righteous judgment based on compassion and direct knowledge. It is my prayer that making a conscious effort to judge righteously we will become more like Christ.

I know that Jesus Christ is my savior and I know that we are not perfect, but when we utilize the Holy Ghost to help us judge righteously we will have the spirit more fully in our lives and in our homes. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ amen.

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